Cross-Dressing in Bulgaria: Gay Identity, Post-Communist Fear, and Magical Love

Cross-Dressing in Bulgaria: Gay Identity, Post-Communist
Fear, and Magical Love

Some observers say that gay culture is essentially homogeneous
the world over. Whether you’re in Bueos Aires or Beijing, walk into
a gay club and you will find the same scents, sounds, and fashions.
Not so, says Robin Brooks, writing in Bad Subjects, a
Pittsburgh-based webzine of political and social commentary. At
least not in Bulgaria.

In ‘Cross-Dressing in Bulgaria,’ Brooks takes us on a fascinating
trip through Bulgaria’s gay subculture, illustrating the many ways
that fear influences the development of community identity.
Exploring the gay nightlife of the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, Brooks
discovers ‘an unusual underground culture and a loosely
consolidated community of people simultaneously drawn together and
atomized by a set of fears and hopes that is unique to the
post-communist situation.’

Bulgaria has long been one of Europe’s most tolerant societies —
Bulgarian gays enjoy even greater civil protections than those in
in Britain or France. Yet Brooks reports that ‘traditional social
values, especially among older generations, and a dire economic
situation make public heterosexuality almost compulsory for young
people who often continue to live with their parents until they are
married.’ As a result, most gays remain closeted, preventing the
larger gay community from unifying politically.

Interestingly, the public face of Sofia’s gay population has become
the drag queens. ‘Bulgaria is the only country I have ever visited
where transvestites are at the top of the hierarchy in the gay
community. They decide who can get into the exclusive discos, they
get reserved tables in private clubs, and everyone else wants to
dance with them or be noticed by
them.’Go there>>

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